Food scientists are toying with the idea of adding scents to foods in order to make them taste differently. The theory is that since taste and smell are connected, making a food smell different should also make it taste different.
American palates have grown accustomed to heavy amounts of salt and sugar, leading to a major obesity epidemic and widespread heart problems. As a result, there has been a large amount of pressure placed on food companies to reduce the amount of salt and sugar in their products.
Food companies are now trying to figure out ways to mimic the delicious taste of salty and sugary products, without resorting to potentially harmful substitutes. They may have found an answer in the way the food smells.
Flavor scientist Thierry Thomas-Danguin says, “When you are tasting food you are perceiving several sensory dimensions, smell, taste, texture, and the brain is making a synesthetic perception. When you are exposed to one dimension, your brain is reconstructing all the flavors and all the sensory dimensions, even if they aren’t there.”
Taste is said to be a very complex sense because it relies on information from both the nose and tongue to decode flavor. People with reduced sense of smell often believe that food lacks flavor.
By putting certain scents onto foods, their tastes can change, according to scientists.
One recent study found that food that is made to have an aroma commonly associated with salty foods made the food taste saltier. The same can be said with sweet odors, which made the food taste sweeter.
By doing this, companies can reduce the amount of salt and sugar in their foods while still maintaining a similar taste. Some experts believe that this method could allow food companies to drop actual salt levels by up to 35%.
However, some experts are critical of this method, saying that the real problem is that food companies have been overloading the products with salt and sugar for years, and Americans have simply adapted their tastes.
Rather than changing the scents, they believe that Americans should simply be weaned off of additives over time in order to return their taste buds to normal.
Still, if this plan works, then scents could be the next way of making food taste better, while still keeping the food healthy.